Pentecost 18, Proper 22, Year C

Title:Pentecost 18, Proper 22, Year C

 Pentecost 18, Year C, Oct. 13, 2019 (full size gallery)

We had 36 people and additionally two dogs from Barbara Segar. The dogs were anxious to be inside and did well during the service. The weather was a cool fall day but was unsettled with alternating periods of sun, clouds and some rain.

The Collins family visited with Jackie at home with a friend. Her brother and his new wife were also present. We recognized the family during the announcements. The church has supported Jackie at Vanderbilt. She has only one more semester for her divinity degree.

Clarence and Betty also had their daughter and friend back in Port Royal. They reside in Arizona.

The sermon was about praise for each other and God.

“When we praise our God, we remember that God’s deeds are great, that God’s work is full of majesty and splendor, that God makes marvelous works to be remembered, that God never forgets God’s covenant of love with us, that the works of God’s hands are faithfulness and justice to us, that God is always sending us redemption, that God LOVES us! And that God even loves the people we have trouble loving. And that God’s loving and healing are for everyone without reservation…

“As we take delight in one another, we are reminded of the delight that God takes in each one of us. Think about how the people you worship with each Sunday bring you delight and help you to delight even more deeply in God.

“Yes, God delights in us–just as we are, while hoping and encouraging us to continue to grow into God’s purposes for us, and that’s how we are to delight in one another.

“That leper we heard about in today’s gospel—that man had not one, but two strikes against him. First of all, he had the dread disease of leprosy, so he was shunned and avoided out of fear. But even worse, he was a Samaritan, so people shunned and avoided him out of hatred because he was different. He wasn’t like they were.
Jesus loved that Samaritan leper without any reservation. And Jesus healed that Samaritan leper just like he healed the other nine who were Jewish.

“No wonder this leper came back to thank Jesus.

“All of us have strikes against us that create distance between us and other people. And we avoid others and distance ourselves from others for a whole variety of reasons.

“So Jesus reminds us—even the ones we’d like to avoid are the ones that Jesus loves. And our calling as those that God delights in is to be people of grace and compassion to one another, even when we’d rather not.”

Today’s readings remind us of the wholeness we experience when we allow God to heal and forgive.In 2 Kings Naaman’s healing leads him to acknowledge the one true God. Paul reflects on the centrality of Jesus Christ, who is himself the good news, bringing salvation. In today’s gospel, 10 lepers receive healing; one healed leper receives salvation.

2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c

Naaman, a commander of the Syrian army, developed leprosy. When told about the Israelite prophet Elisha who could heal him, Naaman finds the prophet and hears his prescription. Naaman feels humiliated. He had hoped for a word of power, but got a call to obedience that required him to wade into the grimy Jordan River.

Naaman’s submission brings him into new life, both physical and spiritual. He becomes a visual testimony, both to wayward Israel and to the Gentile nations, that only submission and an attitude of trust can lead to wholeness and righteousness (a right relationship with God).

Psalm 111

Psalm 111 is a psalm of praise, celebrating God’s presence in the history of God’s covenant relationship with Israel. The psalmist recites a brief history of God’s actions as clues to God’s character.

2 Timothy 2:8-15

Today’s reading consists of an eloquent last testament of Paul (vv. 8-10) and a quotation from a baptismal hymn (vv. 11-13), sandwiched between some proverb-like sayings (vv. 3-7) and advice on dealing with heretics (vv. 14-15). The sayings use favorite metaphors of Paul’s to urge single-minded commitment, self-discipline and labor for reward.

Verses 8-10 consist of a brief credal statement and a reminder that the apostle can still minister, even in chains. The hymn recalls the reality of baptism, perhaps in answer to persecution and the temptation to deny Christ. Even then the Lord is faithful. In dealing with his opponents, Timothy is to avoid argumentation, presenting “the word of truth” (v. 15), the gospel, with which he has been entrusted.

Luke 17:11-19

The story of the cleansing of the 10 lepers is found only in Luke. His focus, however, is not in the healing but in the response. While all are healed, and all are told to go show themselves to the priests, only one returns to thank Jesus when he is healed—and he turns out to be a Samaritan. Jesus said “Your faith has made you well.” The others perhaps were just looking to move on with their lives, to get back to normal—but this one knows that his life has been changed forever.

The leper’s faith has made him whole and has also saved him
Faith is the distinctive behavior that separates out the Samaritan (and others) and sets them on their way to a new destination. The healing miracle is real for all but is not equivalent to salvation, which requires a change of inner orientation. Jesus, the beneficent healer, gives grace to all and receives thankful homage from the foreigner. The leper’s faith has made him whole and has also saved him.

The healing in today’s gospel occurs “on the way.” This sounds a contemporary note. As Jane Redmont writes in Generous Lives: “Commuting time seems to have become the privileged place of prayer in North America.”]

We meet God in the spaces between certainties. As one retreat director said, “95% of your life may be just fine, and you don’t mind revealing it to anyone. It’s the other 5% we’re concerned with.” In the shadowy, unstable, insecure areas, we need healing. There we are most likely to feel the touch of Jesus’ hand.

And how do we respond? As usual, the answer comes in story form. Just as the despised Samaritan would show Jews how to be good neighbors (Luke 10:30-37), so a “foreigner” demonstrates how to receive a gift. Healing is offered to all 10 lepers, just as rain and sunshine fall on all people. But the ability to recognize the blessing and express gratitude for it seems to be more unique. “You sanctify whatever you are grateful for,” writes Anthony DeMello.

Well may we wince to think how many areas of our lives go unredeemed because we have failed to fully appreciate them, to voice our praise for the blessing.
to heal and forgive.In 2 Kings Naaman’s healing leads him to acknowledge the one true God. Paul reflects on the centrality of Jesus Christ, who is himself the good news, bringing salvation. In today’s gospel, 10 lepers receive healing; one healed leper receives salvation.